A Comox woman heading off on her latest Outward Bound adventure will have some esteemed company along.
Suzanne Venuta and a small group from around Canada will be undertaking a Mount Assiniboine hike between July 13 and 18. Joining the party will be esteemed anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and filmmaker Wade Davis.
“This has been in the works for a couple of years,” she says. “Wade will be with us, and his daughter’s going to be with us too.”
The Assiniboine Reach Beyond — 2021 Expedition was supposed to happen last year, but due to the pandemic, the trip was delayed.
Davis is also an Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society and was named by the NGS as an Explorer for the Millennium. His books include The Serpent and the Rainbow, One River, The Lost Amazon and last year’s Magdalena: A River of Dreams, which was a Globe and Mail Best Book. He is also the creator of the documentary series Light at the Edge of the World.
In 2020, he was a part of the speaker series for Outward Bound. Venuta laughs, explaining in an email that when she found out he was joining them, she wasn’t sure who Davis was at first, but she’s since learned.
“I told somebody yesterday Wade Davis is going to be there, and their eyeballs popped out,” she says.
The plan is to fly to Alberta. On the first day, they will have a team dinner and go over what items they need to bring and what they don’t.
“We call it the ‘duffle shuffle,’” she says. “You just go through your gear.”
The group will be taken on a short helicopter ride back into B.C. to their base. From there will be making day hikes in the area and reconvening for introspective discussions in the evening. They will start and end the trip in Canmore, Alta.
“These are the types of discussions I love,” she says, adding she’s warned them they might have to order her off to bed.
Venuta has spoken before about her involvement with Outward Bound. Her last trip in 2019 was a 12-day trek that covered 170 km on the Tour Du Mont Blanc in the Alps.
For her, Outward Bound helped give her confidence and direction to tackle mental health challenges. She remembers hearing about the program as a teen and only wishes she had had the chance to take part then. Instead, it was only something she got to experience as an adult.
Venuta knows first-hand how vulnerable young people can be and thinks it had only gotten more challenging, especially in the age of social media. Add a pandemic and the situation becomes even harder.
“So much of youth culture is socialization,” she says.
Because of the generosity of others, her own flight and fees are covered, so she is using this latest adventure to raise funds for Outward Bound’s youth programming in the hope it can help support young people to find their own adventures. She is raising money online for the Outward Bound programs at https://bit.ly/2SH7rl0